Cold air to reach mountain passes, but will we see snow?

Weather

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Do you have snow on your mind? Does the white top of the mountain get you excited for the upcoming ski and snowboarding season? We are nearing the time of the year where mountain snow becomes more probable. We have cold enough air coming in that snow levels could even reach the mountain passes this week.

There isn’t much snow out there right now. Top of Cascade, which is around 7,300 feet, has a few spotty patches of snow from late September. The passes are much lower than that, coming in closer to 4,000 to 5,500 feet.

Some events will dump snow on the higher elevations, but as we work through October and November, we also have events that bring snow even lower.

Check out the snow level forecast for the remainder of the work week. It’s not hard to miss that inverted spike on Thursday morning. This is telling us that the temperature is going to be cold enough to support snow down to around 4,000 feet. That happens to reach the passes around the state and potentially Government Camp at 26. It doesn’t happen frequently, but snow down to Government Camp in early October is feasible and for some probably desirable.

According to the Western Regional Climate Center (WRCC), Government Camp from (1951-2016) averages 5.5 inches of snow in October and an average snow depth of one inch. It starts to pick up steam in November, eventually flourishing in December and January. We are very much on the fringe of the snow season right now.

How about Mt. Hood Meadows? The average opening date for sustained daily operations is 29 days before Christmas, or November 26.

There will be an elongated trough evolving this week. The system from Tuesday will push north, but an extension of low pressure and cool air will slice all the way to northern California. The weather pattern graphic will show this below. We aren’t in the depths of cold continental air at this time, we will serve that up in the winter. What also occurs this time of the year, is that the cold air doesn’t hold long enough. The snow level forecast jumps right back up and you can tell from the weather pattern graphic that there are still plenty of ridges and areas surrounding the Pacific Northwest (PNW) that is still plenty warm.

Let’s take a quick look at the snow total forecast for the week. It’s not impressive by any means. It looks like the snow will stay above Government Camp. I wouldn’t bet on the pass snow because we aren’t bringing in the moisture when we do cool down on Thursday morning. A light snow accumulation from Tuesday and Wednesday should help bring some more white to the top of Mt. Hood but not down to the passes. No need to get the snow dance going just yet.

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